Hero for the Holidays

James Bynum at scene of accident

For James Bynum serving others is an ordinary part of living. On the Wednesday before Christmas, the ordinary became extraordinary.

On that day, he entered the freezing water of a 20 foot deep pond, to single handedly remove two crash victims from their partially submerged and sinking vehicle. Instead of a holiday tragedy, we were witness to a hero for all seasons.

And now for the rest of the story...

Jonesboro Road is an eight lane highway running through the heart of Union City, GA, a bedroom community just south of the Atlanta Airport. A plethora of high end automotive dealerships dot both sides of the busy thoroughfare.

James glanced into his rear view mirror and spotted a car behind him driving erratically. As the driver continued to swerve from lane to lane, James’ worst fears came true – the car veered sharply left, first into the reversible turn lane, then crossing the center line into oncoming traffic and with tragically predictable results. It slammed into a car headed in the opposite direction which, in turn, veered off the road, crashed through a chain link fence and plunged into a retention pond.

The pond, now filled by recent rains, was on the front lot of a nearby car dealership. Manager Michael Saiz vividly remembers that day. “We heard the crash but we weren’t sure what had happened.” They were soon in shocked disbelief to learn that the auto was nose down and sinking ... fast. The two occupants, a father and his young son, were strapped in the front seated, unable to free themselves.

Without hesitation, James Bynum left his car and waded into the cold and murky water. He reached inside, undid the seatbelt of the stunted boy, pulled him across his father, then out of the car and placed him on the bank. He then returned to the still sinking vehicle, removed the Father’s belt and guided him to safety.

Michael Saiz said “... in all the chaos, I didn’t recognize him at first, and then I realized it was my customer and friend James that pulled those people out of the car. Let me tell you... this guy was a real Hero that day.”

We all wonder what we would do, if danger stared us in the face, if there was little to gain and everything to lose. Would we ask – is it my turn to help? For James Bynum, there was but one answer. For a life built on service - it’s always his turn.

Putting others first seems to be part of James’ DNA. Whether it’s the Angel Tree Holiday Gift Donation Program, or Feds Feeds Families or Toys for Tots, James is always at the front of the line when the call goes out to contribute time, talent or resources. “I feel like I’ve been blessed”, he remarked “...it’s a small thing to try to help others in need.”

On Feb 16th, Union City, Georgia paused to thank James Bynum for what he did on that December day. In his State of the City Address, Mayor Vince Williams said of James: “And like superheroes do, without giving it a second thought, he jumped in and not only rescued the driver, but the driver’s son as well. James, there is a superhero in all of us. But everyone doesn’t have the bravery to put on the cape”.

Well done James, well done!

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